|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: ScribbleHub|
The shock from the explosion rippled out, splashing against the walls of the houses lining the streets.
The lesser undead closest to Carmen when she unleashed the makeshift undead-holy bomb did not survive. When grim light touched them, their bodies turned black like coal and crumbled away, disappearing entirely. For the ones a bit further away, their very existences were pushed out of their bodies and annihilated, leaving behind only normal corpses.
Carmen climbed out of a pile of rubble. She had been thrown through the walls of a house when the explosion launched her away.
Staggering as a sudden wave of weakness and nausea washed over her, she looked around and at herself. She was in the living room of a small house. The ancient decor looked old and tattered even before she rudely made her way in here, and now it looked downright wrecked. The dining table that had been at the center of the room was broken in half beneath her with splinters scattered everywhere.
A throbbing pain came from her left side, and when she looked down, she saw that her left arm was completely gone from her elbow down. What looked like burns covered up to her shoulder.
For the second time today, she had lost her arm. It was from the same thing both times too.
Although she pushed as much mana as she could toward her arm to regenerate it, her flesh merely smoked in response. The stub didn’t even begin to regrow—the traces of holy mana still concentrated in the burnt part of her arm opposed her efforts every step of the way. The undead mana she directed there behaved erratically.
While she was working to neutralize that holy mana, it was a slow process. She could only take comfort in the fact Saevar likely had it worse than her. Instead of just her arm, Saevar’s entire head was probably gone.
Even if the damage wasn’t fatal, it will take Saevar out of the battle for a long time, leaving her only Maelplos to deal with.
Where was that big skeleton anyway? Right before the explosion, Maelplos had been right next to her, so it was probably launched in a different direction. On the other hand, it was also further away from the main blast, so it should have recovered faster too.
Suddenly alert, she jumped to her feet, spreading out her senses and looking around for Maelplos. However, she couldn’t find it, although she did sense Saevar stumbling around somewhere else.
She also sensed only three knight-class undeads where Barsig was—they must have successfully destroyed one of their enemies.
“But where was Maelplos? It’d been so straightforward this whole time that I didn’t think it would hide its aura now.” Realizing that Maelplos wasn’t as simple as she had first assumed, Carmen decided to be more cautious.
Instead of heading straight out, possibly heading straight into an ambush, she quietly stepped around the noisier pieces of wreckage and headed deeper into the house.
Miraculously, she was still hanging on to her sword. When she obliterated Saevar’s head and with her only left arm, she managed to pull the sword when she was thrown back by the explosion.
It would be ironic if she lost it after doing so much to not lose it.
The ancient steps creaked as she walked up the stairs. The curse prevented all rot within its bounds so the wood held her weight while the thick carpet over the wood muffled her steps.
“Maleplos’s not up here either. It’s probably outside, but where?” Even if she found it, she wasn’t going to fight it. She had confidence that she could dodge its slow hammer strikes.
Then, when her arm healed, she could try to fight him again.
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The problem was that her healing process was taking too long. The damage that the strange mixture of holy and undead mana did to her was horrendous. It practically blocked her regeneration completely.
When the holy mana mixed undead mana, it formed some kind of chaotic energy with properties of both.
Although she’d never tried it, Carmen guessed that if she was to hit a human with it, the strange new mana will probably decay the part that was hit and prevent healing by holy magic. The attack was the embodiment of a double-edged sword.
The house had three floors and an attic. After checking that Maelplos wasn’t on the second and third floor, she headed up to the attic. There were some boxes stored up there, but not much else besides dust and old cobwebs. No sign of spiders—even if there were any, they’d be undead.
“Not here either.”
The house shook as the shockwaves from the battle happening nearby spilled over, causing dust to fall all over her. Even from here, she could tell that the battle wasn’t going too well for Barsig.
Screams and shouts from the living filled the air, and occasionally, one would be cut short as they died.
Although they managed to kill one of the knight-classes, the most dangerous one—the skull lich—was still alive. However, many clerics had already been killed. Carmen could no longer sense them.
If she didn’t find Maelplos soon, then was it safe to conclude that it escaped? Perhaps it decided to retreat after witnessing what she could do with that strange undead-holy mixture. In that case, then she could go help Barsig.
Not without her missing arm, though. Her wound was becoming really annoying and it never stopped throbbing. The feeling wasn’t pain, just a distinctive discomfort she felt from having something holy buried in her.
Wasn’t there something she could do that she was forgetting…
With her sword empowered by her rudimentary imbuement, she made four blazing fast cuts on the wall and kicked at it. Made of wood and a thin layer of stone, the wall easily parted in two with the passage of her sword. The chunk she made flew out into the streets, crushing a zombie below. As she jumped out, she scanned the streets for Maelplos.
The large skeleton was nowhere in sight.
“Did he really run? Maybe I misjudged his character.”
As she prepared to descend, her danger senses flared to life. The mark of a powerful undead appeared, so close to her that it was practically right on top of her.
Not below. Not to the sides. Not in front or behind either, and the last remaining place she hadn’t checked was the skied above her.
Twisting with difficulty in midair, she turned just in time to see Maelplos leap from the rooftops, the moonlight from behind casting its face in dark shadows until only its glowing eyes could be seen.
“You really like to attack me from behind, don’t you?” she growled.
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“It is simply the most assured way to victory.”
With those words in reply, Maelplos dropped its hammer down, the blunt ends smashing into the sword that Carmen held up in front of her. However, without her left arm acting as a brace, she couldn’t properly block. The hammer and the flat of her blade smashed into her chest.
Ah, I remember this happening before.
The impact of the imbued hammer rippled through her body, cracking her ribs and sternum. It sent her flying downwards, crashing into the ground, creating a crater. The only reason she was a bit better off than Saevar had been when the sword skeleton ate a direct hit from the hammer was because she blocked slightly with the sword.
Still, this time, she wouldn’t be able to just roll out of the crater. Maelplos doubtlessly had countermeasures.
The skeleton’s dark force descended with all the looming presence of a mountain. She felt that same sense of doom when Saevar bit down on her sword, too. Something about Maelplos just struck abnormal fear in her.
However, perhaps because she was about to die, her mind was in overdrive as she searched her memories for something like might work. She found it, right as Maelplos’s hammer dropped down on her chest—her very center, aiming to destroy her in one hit.
Carmen’s heart began to beat. The frozen blood in her body turned to liquid. Not only her blood, but every inch of her body turned a deep shade of scarlet.
Without encountering a single hint of resistance, Maelplos’s hammer tore straight through her chest and smashed into the ground, sending blood splattering far and wide.
No matter how far the blood flew, Carmen sensed every drop. Every drop was a part of her body. The blood flying in the air, splattered against the wall, or pounded into the ground—all of it trembled and writhed as they rose into the sky, sprouting wings and turning into bats of blood.
Before Maelplos’s glowing eyes, the crushed body that should have been splattered all over the crater at its feet became a swarm of tiny red bats that silently flew past him.
They gathered behind him in a growing sphere of blood. As each bat reached the sphere, they melted away and the sphere grew a little more.
When all the bats were gone, the sphere twisted and morphed until it became the shape of a person, finally gaining color, becoming a girl clothed in a tattered dress.
As Carmen regained her body, she paled and dropped to one knee, clutching her chest as something pounded into her chest, turning her chest to mush. Her heart stopped beating and her blood froze once more.
Staggering back up, she turned tail and ran before Maelplos could fully register what had happened. In truth, she didn’t know either. It had just happened. But whatever just happened wouldn’t save her again, at least until her heart worked once more.
Not sparing a glance behind her, she hid her undead aura and dashed between two houses and disappeared into an alley, still clutching her chest as she gave up on healing her arm to focus her efforts on her heart.
Instead of running as far as she could, she instead weaved behind the houses before picking one at random not too far from the battle. Under the cover of the sounds from the battle, she broke the lock on the back door with her strength alone and stumbled inside, collapsing in a dark corner.
She tried to breathe to calm herself, but found that she couldn’t. Her lungs had been destroyed along with almost everything that was soft in her chest. Denied even that human reaction, she instead huddled up and put her head on her knees and sat there in silence.
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A few strands of long silver hair fell into her vision.
“No! No, no, no!”
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